This blog was written by Lawrence Mohammed, Pro Bike Service CIC.
Pro Bike Service CIC was setup to serve a growing number of safe cyclists. We believe that within healthy and resilient communities, there should be no barriers to education, to wellbeing, no limits to collaboration. Our social enterprise is committed to helping others transition towards a regenerative and sustainable economy and everything we do is governed by these principles and aims. Writing about the myriad benefits of cycling in a blog like this would be preaching to the converted, so this blog piece covers only the tools we've adopted, why we've chosen them, and how other projects within the TfL funded Cycling Grants London (CGL) family can benefit in order to best serve their beneficiaries.
Firstly, what is Open Source? Broadly speaking, this is a term denoting that a product (usually software) includes permission to use its code, documentation, or content (i.e. its products and services, along with the tools that created them). The fact that Wikipedia is the leading encyclopaedia, Mozilla's Firefox is a far better browser than Internet Explorer, or that most of the worlds internet servers run on Linux rather than Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX proves that this works.
How about Gift Economics? This is completely different to the economic model of exchange using fiat-based currencies we’re accustomed to. A gift economy engenders radical trust, deep social bonding and allows everyone to give according to his or her means. In short, it's based on abundance rather than scarcity, it's fully inclusive, hoarding is designed out and gifts are inclined to circulate, generating more tangible wealth. Wherever practicable, everything we deliver is gifted to our community, our community being able to reciprocate gifts or donate and support as desired.
So, how have we adopted these principles and how has this benefitted us and our beneficiaries? We built our workshop and office computers using Linux Ubuntu operating systems, Libre Office for our document handling and Thunderbird for our email accounts. Whilst we have since donated, we started using these for free. Designing and building our workshop was a mammoth undertaking, but because everything we were creating was for the benefit of the wider community and open source/gifted, we found that many businesses, enterprises and individuals gifted their knowledge, resources, materials and labour to the project. Cycling Grants London funded by TfL allowed Pro Bike Service to incorporate as a CIC, but increasingly, our community is helping it to grow and become sustainable.
We’ve also reached out to universities and partnered to deliver real-world experience and training for students, simultaneously receiving a complete website rebuild (UAL) and framework design (Loughborough University London) for the IT solutions we’re currently developing. Being fully open source, any CGL project or other business can benefit from what we're creating, massively scaling our impact.
Finally, since inception, we’ve regularly met with local cycling enterprises and frequented community groups (both online and physical) to determine their needs and challenges, along with sharing our own. The more we know about each other, the greater our ability to support, collaborate or create solutions, collectively working to deliver a resilient, fully inclusive cycling community for London and beyond.